Shaun Maloney must be backed by Hibs board with finished articles and forget project signings – Tam McManus – Fraser Wilson

Forget the projects. Focus on the proven.

That needs to be the mantra at Hibs in the summer transfer window if Shaun Maloney and Gary Caldwell are to have any chance of progress.

Saturday’s Scottish Cup semi final defeat to Hearts proved there is hope in Leith despite the result.

But Hibs are so lightweight in the attacking areas that they will keep hitting brick walls in terms of moving the side forward unless ready made reinforcements are brought in.

The last window was all about bringing in young players who will no doubt come good in 18 months’ time.

But what use is that to Maloney and Caldwell a year down the line if they’ve been sacked?

They need help from the board to bring in guys who are the finished article, aged about 27 or 28 not teenagers, who will hit the ground running from the first game of the season.

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Pace to replace Martin Boyle. Power, physicality and a penalty box prowess to cover the injured Kevin Nisbet.

Funnily enough a similar player to Ellis Simms at Hearts would be ideal.

Even in the wide areas where Sylvester Jasper has tailed off recently, they need dynamism, strength and pace.

Do that and I’m confident next season will be a vast improvement.

You could see positive signs at Hampden on Saturday where it took just two minutes to realize this was a different Hibs, a totally different beast to a week earlier.

The tackles were flying, Hearts players weren’t given a moment on the ball. It was everything that the previous week wasn’t.

In the end two incredible finishes and yet another wonder save from Craig Gordon was the difference.

Three big moments – four if you include Joe Newell’s stupid lunge for a second yellow card – went in Hearts’ favour.

I like big Joe but that was sheer stupidity getting sent off. He had a wee pull of a jersey moments earlier and I was thinking then he was in trouble. So to slide into a stupid tackle after that was just crazy.

That killed Hibs’ momentum a bit because they were pummeling Hearts at that point.

They were still the better team after it to their credit, but without creating too many opportunities which again comes back to them being so lightweight up top.

Fair play to Shaun, Gary and David Gray, they had to get a reaction to last week and they got it. They clearly had their players fired up.

Nobody more so than Lewis Stevenson.

Now there’s a member of the Hibs side who absolutely merits his place next season.

He may have about 540 appearances under his belt and sit fourth in the all-time appearance charts at Easter Road but he has plenty more in the tank.

He was the best player on the park at Hampden.

What a professional, he’s not kicked a ball in a month then comes into the team and is absolutely everywhere.

He was up front at one point! He set-up the goal, was firing into tackles, throwing crosses into the box, he was fantastic.

Lewis should have a place at Hibs until he can no longer walk! He epitomizes everything that’s good at the club.

He’s won two cups and is a living legend in Leith.

The day he retires he should be carried out the stadium shoulder high. He’s been a brilliant servant, an absolute inspiration and he should be in the team every week, be it left back, left midfield, center midfield, left wing .. anywhere!

Lewis should play every one of the last five games.

The fans might think it’s too little too late now they’re stuck in the bottom six but they’re still important matches.

There’s season tickets to sell, potential signings to impress and while I know first hand it can be difficult to motivate yourself for games in the bottom six after the split they simply have to find a way.

If they play like they did at Hampden – match the attitude, commitment and desire – then they can win all five games and go into the summer with a better feeling around the place.

That would also take a bit of the pressure off Shaun going into a crucial few months preparing for the new season when he should be properly judged.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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